To Be Or Not To Be Normal

By Ransome Westt. Ransome is from Port Harcourt, Nigeria. Please read his article and leave your thoughts and comments below.

As societies evolve over time, so also do the norms, traditions and customs that guide them. We are the results of millennia of glaring and subtle changes in human behaviour and the ever-evolving laws that guide it.

What we label conventional and acceptable has progressed through epochs, through different eras and periods, picked up in gene pools and handed down to offspring by word of mouth or learned customs and practices of a particular people.

As such, there might just be as many variations to the definition of “normal” as there are proponents and quantifiers to what normal is. There is nothing new under the sun after all. If the mind can conceive a thing, it is within the realms of possibility of the mind that conceives it and every other mind that can, and in all likelihood, it has already been attempted.

One therefore could say there is no such thing as normal, which would be a reasonable position to hold, taking things into consideration. Trends have birthed practices that have grown into conventional behaviour just as they have birthed new ones.

Regardless of what your stance is, there are basic principles that constitute what is classified as normal within whatever sphere we find under examination. There are established patterns, generally acknowledged and time-honoured routines and practices that constitute normal.

While a deviation from these patterns, routines and practices can be regarded as normal, they are deviations and shifts from the context within which they are considered. How far away these deviations are from the spectrum of normalcy determine how “abnormal” a person or an idea is deemed to be.

In every setting, a certain degree of abnormality is acceptable and tolerated, and to some extent, even encouraged. It’s okay to dare to be different, to break the mould and be unique, just like everyone else.

It is interesting, how crying for babies is acceptable behavior, as is not crying. A baby that cries more than normal raises concern but the limits to which something goes out of hand and isn’t normal anymore varies from individual to individual or location to location.

Abnormal is normal, as normal is abnormal: quite the paradox. When it’s not okay is when you stray too far from type, too abnormal for abnormal, the anomaly.

This is quite the indicator of how difficult it is to fit in. It gets very confusing, deciding what the parameters that determine abnormal are and how far one has to deviate from the norms to completely depart from within the confines of all that prevail as acceptable, passable and tolerable.

A lot of everyday people struggle with these questions and assumptions. We lose more than ourselves trying to fit in to what the times and era we find ourselves in consider to be normal and commonplace, dithering between accepting ourselves and our quirks to only trying to be what society will accept. It is not hard to see how great a source of anxiety this could be for anyone.

Nobody realises how much work and exertion people put on themselves to be accepted, to smile and wave, to fit in. How open and honest can one be with society? The mere expression that we can be ourselves is at best dishonest and at worst, destructive.

Battling all sorts of inhibitions, we groom clones after our likeness as society dictates what should and should not be an appropriate way to be a human being. While in many ways, these patterns and customs help detect and extract bad seeds from within and aid self-preservation, but at what cost? Who decides the right way to live, to behave, to be human?

The world is currently dealing with a myriad of mental illnesses. Emotional health is proving to be a bigger deal to humankind by the day. There is a surge in emotional and psychological health related issues worldwide in startling, never-before-seen levels.

From anxiety, to depression, to multiple personality disorder, people are battling every day to stay consistent to the dictates of their positions. People are being silenced and shushed from being free and expressing themselves and are afraid of asking for help, afraid of how they will be regarded and judged.

The only thing sadder than people expending so much effort and energy and time and life on being considered normal is how overlooked they get by other people struggling to define what normal is and explore their liberties and freedom as human beings, to live and be free, to be vulnerable and to feel, to take in the very essence of life, embedded in the pains and joys alike, to be.

We are reduced to cold, insensate zombies, straggling the streets, looking for where to draw the life out of, passing our aggression and unloading our frustrations on bystanders, or even worse, shadows that suffer in silence and suppression.

The world is teeming with broken hearts and frozen spirits. People that have died a thousand times over, piecing together shattered dreams, doing all within their power to keep up with “normal” everyday life. Tortured souls, bleeding internally and wearing blank faces to disguise the purposelessness and colour their lives lack, waiting for a breakthrough or death or lacking the patience to and taking matters into their own hands.

The irony, just like our struggles with wishing and efforts to fit in and be normal, this is normal human behaviour. And even when we understand we don’t need to fit in with the norm and we find acceptance within splinters and factions of like minds, we can’t help the intrinsic desire to want to belong, it is only normal to want what we are, to be normal. How hard can we try?

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